The Times spooks Labour
Last week, the Times’ Patrick Maguire published an excoriating column about Sir Keir Starmer’s ‘reshuffle problem’. The Labour leader is expected to change up his top team as early as next week, providing hacks with some blessed early relief from recess blues.
Mr Maguire’s piece began with a brutal character assassination of one shadow cabinet member in particular:
“Have you heard of Jim McMahon? Be honest. You probably haven’t. There’s no point pretending you’ve heard of Jim McMahon now. If you have, you are likely to know only that he is in line for the sack when Labour reshuffles its shadow cabinet. That is in no small part because you hadn’t heard of Jim McMahon’s work as shadow environment secretary. If you had, he might be keeping his job. But you hadn’t, so he isn’t. And that much you may know about Jim McMahon.”
Rumour now reaches Sir Arbuthnot the Times column has seriously spooked one – nameless of course – shadow cabinet member, who has since used at least one SW1 meeting to ask the high profile boss to ‘put in a good word for him’ with the Labour leader.
His or her success – or otherwise – will be revealed in the coming days…
Warburton abandons buttering up journos
Last week, Sir Arbuthnot received an email from a Mrs Warburton, complaining about an article written in the Express that referred to her husband, the shamed and now-ex MP David Warburton, as ‘shamed’.
Mr Warburton quit after a string of headlines involving allegations of sexual harassment – now dropped; twice violating the code of conduct around financial allegations – no sanction; and admitting to using cocaine.
All of this left Mrs Warburton asking, “Where is the ‘shame’?”
Given her husband quit as an MP a whole month before she sent the email, it is interesting to note the communiqué came from her official, taxpayer-provided, parliamentary email address.
It turns out that while MPs and their staff have mere days to vacate parliament after quitting, they get two months to carry on accessing services such as their email addresses.
Notionally this is to allow them to wrap up casework and help handover any outstanding constituency cases to their successor, rather than complain to journalists.
So be warned, fellow hacks, there’s still a month left to go in which to also receive said complaints…
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May the force be with him…
On Wednesday evening Beachcomber managed to stagger across Whitehall from the Red Lion and get into the lobby reporters’ rather selective drinks reception in the Downing Street garden.
For a man who has had seven months of slings and arrows, awful headlines and terrible polls, the PM appeared to be in fine fettle chatting about cricket (a very sensible conversation) and the unlikelihood that he will get his first holiday since 2018, poor fellow.
But one titbit he let slip was that as a fanatical Star Wars fan he did not waste that 40-odd days between losing the leadership election to Liz Truss and replacing her.
Instead he binge-watched the Mandalorian series on Disney Plus.
For those who don’t know the plot it is about someone of short stature and a lot of talent being rescued by a rather zealous chap in a mask.
Famously, the PM was once grilled on how he would deal with political situations in Star Wars, perhaps the Mandalorian could be his next campaign chief.
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Suits you, sir
Political party press officers are fairly a pretty maligned bunch of individuals most of whom appear to have come from the same kindergarten as the newly elected MP for Selby.
They essentially have tow jobs – first to try to sell their rather ropy efforts in research as genuine news stories.
Second, and more importantly, to kill off news stories which may damage them.
So today Beachcomber wants to tip a hat to a hero of the Uxbridge by-election – the Conservatives’ press officer for London Aaron Newbury.
Beachcomber was given an erroneous tip (as it turned out) that CCHQ had banned the wearing of suits to start being more modern.
The story had the ring of truth about it because of the sort of centrist mushy folk who seem to run the place.
But a call went into Newbury to verify the story.
Even though he was in some god forsaken street in Uxbridge helping with the by-election, he was a little bemused and denied it.
But, and this is where things got impressive, not satisfied with that he called up one of his young colleagues still in CCHQ and forced him to have his picture taken in a suit holding a copy of the day’s Daily Express as proof of date.
While sad that the story fell through, we have to acknowledge the ingenuity of Mr Newbury for going the extra mile.
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